Report: A Successful Autistic Thanksgiving


Well, the Thanksgiving was a success. I almost had a meltdown over the anxiety while walking the dog, but that was over once I got the turkey in the oven. 

Of course, there was a period of relaxation while the turkey was roasting. The rest of the dishes were easy to prepare. Anyway, the dinner was a success. We ate, relaxed, ate again, and I broke down the turkey with ease. I hope to be more confident next year.

The schedule was easy. It was just my mother and me, but I would have liked the challenge of adhering to a set time. We just ate when we were done. It was cool. We got calls from people who truly cared about us. It was a lovely day. 

Well, I’m off to eat a third helping of turkey. See you later. 

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Autism Thanksgiving Prep Helps, Part 2: Early Prep

Please forgive me…I’ve been trying to process all the happenings in California, which is now Fire Country. I’ve been numb from all the climate change denial, the fake compassion, and inability to learn. (We all know who this is about.) Please, support legitimate causes surrounding California.  

Now that the California Public Servant Announcement is done, let’s get to…. 

Autism Thanksgiving Prep Helps, Part 2: Early Prep 

If you have not been reading lately, just know that this year, as in years before, I am in charge of Thanksgiving cooking – with help in the timing department from Mom, of course. Fortunately, most of the dishes are baked in the last hour, so that makes things a little easier. I only have to cook mashed potatoes, bowtie noodles and gravy on the stove. Everything else is baked/roasted.  

I already have the turkey in the refrigerator, and have had it there for a few days, because we got a large one. Strangely enough, I have encountered a small mass of ice in the cavity every time I have cooked turkey before, no matter how long I have set it out – not up to a week before, though. Anyway, the turkey has always been a success, so there’s really little to worry about there. Just so you know, we do NOT stuff the turkey with stuffing prior to baking; we need room for our aromatics. Besides, we have a bunch of turkey stock and broth formulas on hand for our stuffing and other dishes. Of course, we roll out enough food to feed an army, or feed us for a weekend.  

Much of this stage of prep involves deciding how and in what to serve our dinner. A quick hack for this: Use sticky notes to label the dishes, so you’ll be ready when the food is ready to be served up. And don’t move the notes around! You could lose them.  

Why am I prattling on and on about Thanksgiving food prep? It helps me deal with the holiday, of course. It helps center my mind and body for the upcoming task. Besides, most people think that because of my autism, I would not be able to do Thanksgiving cooking. Well, boo on them. I’ve done Thanksgiving cooking for years. I’m thankful for the ability to do it.  

Anyway, involving the autistic person in the process, and explaining it clearly to them every step of the way, is key to helping them deal with the holiday. Remember, think of things from their point of view: many of these Thanksgiving dinners involve strange foods, strange practices, and even people who are not normally there for a lot of the year. To an autistic person, this amount of upset can be overwhelming. Have empathy. (Funny I need to say “Have empathy” to people who think I can’t have empathy. Ironic? Maybe.) Explain this clearly and physically age-appropriately. They can understand more than you think.  

Also, a pro tip: Pull the turkey into the fridge TODAY, if you haven’t already. Even those small turkeys that weigh maybe four to six pounds some people are fond of need at least two days to thaw.

Getting Jesus; Faith of a Canaanite Woman

I watched “Jesus Christ Superstar” on NBC along with who knows how many people. I suspect there were many, though. Ratings will come out next week. It was a punk-rock-modern retelling, complete with multimedia and reporters among the arresting crowd. I was not offended at all that John Legend was cast. He was excellent. I was actually offended about Alice Cooper’s involvement, until Mr. Cooper’s faith came busting out of the shadows on its own. That put any offense to bed really quick. But one thing that nagged me throughout the show was this question: Did anybody around Jesus really GET Jesus?  

According to the musical, nobody really got Jesus, and they said over and over “He’s just a man.” However, the Bible tells the story of one or woman who actually got Jesus – who He was, what He was all about. Sure, they forgot to depict the Resurrection in the musical. I’m not sure Andrew Lloyd Weber really got Him. As a matter of fact, I have a confession: I don’t even know if I get Jesus half of the time. Fortunately, you don’t have to get Jesus to be loved or saved by Jesus. 

As to the woman who did, they remain unnamed to this day. The first account, in the Bible Book of Matthew (15:21-28), a Canaanite/Syro-Phoenician woman cries for help for her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus says in the account, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But the woman counters with, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Jesus healed her daughter for her great faith.  

I’m not saying I am perfect, far from it. I am saying that faith is rewarded, and there was a woman who really GOT Jesus. I want to be more like the Canaanite Woman.  

How Christmas Went This Year

After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.

I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.

Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.

Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.  

Free to Be Me

It’s not a thing I take for granted. For the longest time, the above statement was not true. It has taken me almost forty years to realize that being Free to Be Me was a privilege denied me for years. I had to change and conceal my true self with almost everyone. I mean, you’ve seen the wreckage. I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I mean, I’ve answered most of the fundamentals, like who I’m attracted to. I’m not going to digress into that. There are more answers I still do not know. I’ve just barely learned how to be free; now it’s time to learn how to be me. 

In these hours it is when I realize how truly lucky and grateful I am for a parent who accepts me as I am. This has helped me free myself more than I have ever been. Many people I know do not have that, in relation to autism. I also know many more people do not have that in other ways. There is no real platitude or words of wisdom to give in those cases. Sometimes, you just have to amputate people from your life. You also need to reach out, and be vulnerable. Considering my history, this is very shocking for me to write. I have learned who my real friends are. And I’m not giving my trust out to just anybody. I know making friends while being autistic is hard, but you do need your support. You may find your support in surprising places. I know they’re out there. They’re going to help you be free. Don’t you think you deserve that to look forward to?  

Real Thanksgiving Talk, Part 2 – Planning and Shopping, and the Thankful Part

How is my Thanksgiving prep going? Pretty good. We have planned the menu and we will be shopping for it soon. You kind of have to do the fresh things, like turkey and fresh vegetables, a week before, so you can get it all properly. I must admit, I need help to do the Thanksgiving dinner the way we had it in the past, but I’ve got that too. I have done a Thanksgiving dinner before – several times. I also have the mind behind the Thanksgiving dinner – my mother.  

It’s not all bragging. It’s careful planning and timing, something I still struggle with. We have our traditions for after Thanksgiving, too. It’s called “Staying Home and Putting up Christmas Decorations.” But I digress. There’s not really much to the Thanksgiving thing. To me, it’s mostly being thankful for what you have, and dinner.  

I am thankful I have a mother who accepts me the way I am. I have a warm home with love and good furniture. I am thankful I have clothes to wear. I am thankful I can express myself in the blog I have. I am thankful I can clean the clothes I wear whenever I can, thankful for a washer/dryer combo in my house. I am thankful I have a dog that looks at me like I’m the best thing that ever happened. I am thankful that I can say I have basic needs covered. Many people around the world and near me do not have even this.  

April Post 5: Glimmers of Hope 

As I have said before, previous Autism Awareness Month(s) have been hijacked by the “Destroy All Autism” rhetoric of Autism Speaks. Now, we autistics are breaking through. I can see it in a local Kroger store’s Autism Awareness Month display. I was initially put off because it used puzzle pieces in decoration, though those puzzle pieces had words such as “Accept,” “Love” and “Hope.” It looked like your basic puzzle piece poster at first, though. I had to look much closer. With the traditional puzzle piece, you are literally forced to look closer for hope. I found that hope breaking through as many of us autistics grow up, and often find themselves finding about autism later in life, especially if you’re  a woman. Now, I’m turning forty this year, and was diagnosed as a child myself, but at the time of my diagnosis, autism was considered a rare condition. I’ll tell you what changed: the diagnostic criteria was loosened considerably. Now that is why we’re getting a lot more diagnoses these days. But learning that autism actually has benefits, and breaking away from the Doom and Gloom of Autism Speaks, we find our hope peeking out through the pain.